Rush to judgment on the Rick Perry indictment

Yes, Rick Perry was exercising his lawful powers. So was Richard Nixon in ordering the Saturday Night Massacre.

I don’t know whether Gov. Rick Perry is guilty of anything, or – assuming he is – whether the special prosecutor has the goods to prove it, let alone whether the right-leaning Texas Court of Criminal Appeals would sustain such a conviction. (Since Perry isn’t an innocent person on Death Row, the court will tend to give him all the breaks.)

I do know that most of what has been written about the case since the indictment has been nonsense, with Blue and Red pundits competing to see who can say the nastiest things about the prosecutor.  See Simon Maloy and Kevin Drum on the Hack Gap.)

Worse, everyone seems to be ignoring the obvious fact that, even if Perry can’t be convicted of a crime, his conduct in this case ought to disqualify him for the Presidency.  Continue reading “Rush to judgment on the Rick Perry indictment”

The old razzle-dazzle

Calling Romney a liar nicely.

In the next two debates, Obama needs to call out Romney on his lying and shape-shifting in a way that’s not personally insulting to his opponent or demeaning to himself. Biden’s “malarkey” to Ryan was just right – language for challenging a drunken braggart in a bar without starting a fight – but it’s an Irishism.

Suggestions for Obama in this clip from, appropriately, Chicago.

Rick Perry’s Pain and Ours

Rick Perry’s former communications chief disputes the claim that painkillers caused the former presidential candidate’s poor debate performances and occasionally strange demeanor on the campaign trail. Technically, the claim isn’t even in the public square yet, but is said to appear in a soon-to-be-released book by veteran political reporters Mike Allen and Evan Thomas.

If the claim is true, there is certainly no shame in Perry’s use of the medications themselves. Back surgery can produce intense and lasting pain. And if his use of pain medications has led to a debilitating addiction, again, nothing for which to apologize, and he should receive the best medical treatment available. There are pharmacological, psychological and behavioral interventions that can help people overcome iatrogenic addiction, and in general the sooner they seek treatment the greater the chances of recovery.

All that said, if the Governor was experiencing fuzzy-headedness, memory problems, and mood disturbance from his pain medication, then the decision he and his campaign staff made to run for the right to put his finger on the nuclear button was reckless in the extreme. Furthermore, as he is still a sitting Governor with powers of consequence (e.g., consenting to capital punishments) it’s a legitimate question now whether he is experiencing continuing medication-related mental and emotional impairment.

Overestimating Perry, Underestimating Gingrich

For the past half year I have been on the wrong side of received opinion regarding Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. The day that Governor Perry declared his candidacy, and the punditocracy was at his feet, I expressed doubt that he had what it takes to survive the inferno of a national campaign. This was only half of my isolation. My nadir came in mid-December, when I opined that Newt’s surge was more sustainable than all those that had gone before in the GOP race. The next day his poll numbers plunged, and I experienced the twin pains of having a commenter mock me with “If only you could have held off on this column for 24 more hours…” and having my “Newt Won’t Wilt” post replaced on the coveted masthead spot of Washington Monthly’s web page with my co-blogger Jonathan Bernstein’s post entitled “Newt in Free Fall“. I donned sackcloth and ashes and wandered alone and ashamed in desolate places of which I will not tell.

Now that Andrew Sullivan is handing out “Von Hoffman” awards to those who were sure of a Perry nomination and Gingrich has romped to victory in South Carolina’s primary, I return from pundit purgatory, like Gandalf the White, to ask why so many intelligent political observers didn’t see all this coming.

Perhaps two lessons of political history that once reliably guided expectations about elections are today more likely to mislead. Continue reading “Overestimating Perry, Underestimating Gingrich”

Drunk? I don’t think so

I’ve watched the Rick Perry video, and didn’t pick up so much as a hint of inebriation.

The video supposedly showing Rick Perry under the influence strikes me as showing him merely exuberant. I’m no Perry fan, but I’m calling bullsh*t.

On the other hand, “half a trillion dollars a year for tax preparation”? Where did that number come from?


Romney’s bind

Mitt Romney just discovered that he can’t get the nomination without endorsing vicious union-busting measures. But the reason he ducked on Measure 5 in Ohio is that Ohio voters hate it. And he can’t win the election without carrying Ohio.

Seems to me there’s a lesson in Mitt Romney’s flip-flop-flip on the anti-labor ballot question in Ohio. Not the obvious lesson is that Romney has no core beliefs: a deeper lesson about the strategic fix he’s in.

It’s very hard to draw an electoral map where a Republican wins the White House without winning Ohio. Romney knows that. He also knows that the Governor’s union-busting is very unpopular with Ohio voters. So his best play, against Obama, is to say that it’s a matter for Ohio’s voters and he’s not going to meddle.

But, as Romney just discovered, the Republican base hates unions almost as much as it hates black and brown people, and perhaps as much as it hates scientific reasoning. So now he looks craven – again – and also has told the people of Ohio, whose votes he needs, that he supports something that affects them and which they strongly oppose.

The Tea Party-owned, Koch-financed Republican party, openly trying to wreck the country for partisan gain and openly pushing for the very richest to get even richer while everyone else suffers, has suffered less backlash than I would have expected. But eventually Wile E. Coyote looks down. Maybe “eventually” will arrive next year.

The big winner in the Republican debates …

… is Caligula’s horse Incitatus, no longer the gold standard for distinction beyond merit.

… has clearly been Caligula’s horse Incitatus.

For close on two millennia the poor beast, the victim of his master’s insane (or perhaps jocular) intention to make him Consul, has been a proverb for those offered for posts beyond their capacities. Here, for example, is John Randolph of Roanoke on John Quincy Adams’s choice of Richard Rush as Secretary of the Treasury:

Never were abilities so much below mediocrity so well rewarded; no, not when Caligula’s horse was made Consul.

As a result of the Republican debates, we can now give the innocent Incitatus – who never, after all, ran for Consul, or even galloped for it – a rest. Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum are all clearly less qualified for the office they seek than a horse would have been to serve as Consul. The Presidency, unlike the Consulate under the Emperors, still has real functions.

And at least Caligula proposed the entire horse.

Moral Midget of the Month Award

… goes, not to Rick Perry – though his integrity is so minuscule you’d need an electron microscope to see it – but to Mitt Romney. How low to the ground do you have to be to allow your ancestral faith to be insulted and not hit back?

… goes, not to Rick Perry – though his integrity is so minuscule you’d need an electron microscope to see it – but to Mitt Romney. How low to the ground do you have to be to allow your ancestral faith to be insulted and not hit back?

Contrast Benjamin Disraeli, a baptized Christian and a faithful member of the Church of England but a Jew by ancestry, taunted about his Jewishness by an Irish opponent: “Yes, I am a Jew. And when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”

Now, that’s the way it’s done. But the Boneless Wonder doesn’t have it in him. It’s not that Romney has any scruples about fighting dirty: his attack on Perry over immigration was about as raw as they come. But Romney is a coward and a bully. He knows the mob isn’t on his side about Mormonism, so he’s prepared to absorb the insult to his religion rather than make it an issue.

Troy Davis will die tomorrow

… for a crime he quite possibly didn’t commit.

… for a crime he’s innocent of, as likely as not. (Wikipedia here; the views of former Reagan/Bush FBI Director William Sessions – the key word is “intolerable” – here).

Yes, this case raises questions about the death penalty, though not ones that a moral cretin like Rick Perry will pay any attention to. But would it really be better to lock an innocent man up for the rest of his life? The deeper problem is a criminal justice system where “due process” produces infinite delay but where the doctrine of “finality of judgment” makes it impossible to review in any forthright manner cases where the wrong guy get bagged for the crime.

The notion that a man can be executed – or kept in a cage forever – because his lawyers failed to prove his innocence (after a flawed, but procedurally correct, initial conviction) ought to outrage everyone with a sense of natural justice.

What Rick Perry Did to Texas, He Can Do to the Country

Texas unemployment rises to 8.5%, the highest in 24 years.  (h/t TPM).

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, clearly a basket case due to liberal policies, the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.4%, the lowest in two and a half years.

It should be mentioned that Texas job losses stem from public sector reductions.  Since public sector workers like teachers, police officers, and fire fighters don’t count as real people, this should not count against Perry.  One of Josh Marshall’s commenters puts it well:

1. Is a Dem trying to take credit for creating jobs by creating public sector jobs? If so, they do not count and must be subtracted from the math.

 2. Is a GOPer trying to take credit for creating jobs by creating public sector jobs (as Perry has done)? If so, then they count, but you must ignore that they were public sector jobs and never speak of it.

 3. Is public sector job loss causing a Dem to look like his/her policies are causing unemployment to go up? If so, then they count, but you must ignore that they were public sector jobs and never speak of it.

 4. Is public sector job loss causing a GOPer to look like his/her policies are causing unemployment to go up? if so, then they do not count and you must refer to it as controlling the size of and shrinking government.

There is an important point here: current GOP ideology holds that public goods are nonexistent.  Police, fire, education, transportation, public works, etc. etc. have no value and add nothing to productivity.  Thus, creating these jobs does not count.  Simply put, that is a recipe for national decline.